The draft local plan is sprinkled with hundreds and thousands. For an organisation with a budget running to hundreds of millions which has a finance team which calculated in advance, to within £12K, the Government funding which was finally announced, the approach to non-financial numbers can seem random if not careless. In the context of a local plan which is intended in due course to determine planning decisions, this matters; I have written previously about some of the misleading numbers, including here, but so far the nearest thing to progress is the Council’s commitment to complete a new retail study. I raised some of these issues at a recent meeting with the Planning portfolio holder Edwina Hannaford.
Typos happen. At the most recent full Council meeting minutes were accepted recording the Planning portfolio holder’s assurance that of the 47500 houses planned 27K have planning permission of which 7K have been built leaving just 27,500 unaccounted for (which I make a total of 54,500). Yesterday the planning portfolio holder sent out an email containing the *revision* that 25K have planning permission of which 7K have been built leaving 22K unaccounted for (which I make a total of 47K). This is of course *not very important* and I am only saying it because the main purpose of her email was to complain that a petition calling for fewer houses was being circulated with an email containing some inaccurate numbers.
The petition’s originator Bernard Deacon is a retired social science and history lecturer some of whose research publications include statistics; despite which, I don’t always think the numbers he uses in political contexts are reliable and have said so. However, I have looked at the petition online here - it says 47,500 and given that there are just over 8000 houses in Truro ‘five new Truros’ is an understatement, not an exaggeration. The opinion that 47,500 – including 3K in Truro – is too many is widely shared, and the only mystery is why it got voted through, but at least now it is coming out for consultation. You can check these numbers for yourself: 2 per cent of Cornwall councillors were offered 6 per cent of the proposed new build, some 2800 of which already have planning permission; two of Truro’s councillors voted against and two abstained – which is a wasted vote to be honest. I have thought long and hard about this and now signed the petition calling for the housing number to be reduced.
Whether or not the Truro/Kenwyn plan will work – not least for the local economy – depends partly on changing the local plan for the better.